Friday, May 15, 2009

Holy Happy Hour and Real Presence

Last night, we had our inaugural "Holy Happy Hour" at Charlie Hooper's in Brookside. About 40 of us came and enjoyed a wonderful time – great fellowship and conversation. We're planning to make this a monthly event on the third Thursday of the month. So mark your calendar for June 18, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Hooper's.

There's a good story about where this idea comes from. Janet Sheffey and I had been talking for a few months about organizing something like this – a way to get “church” out of the building and into the community. Then, one evening, we were part of a committee meeting at Panera Bread. After probably a little too much caffeine, the six or seven of us there were having an energetic conversation with a lot of laughter. Then a young man came up, having noticed my clerical collar, and asked, “What church are you from, anyway?” It was a great opportunity to tell him about St. Andrew’s and invite him to worship with us. After that, Janet and I shared our idea with the group about bringing church into the community, and Holy Happy Hour was born.

In addition to moving church out of the building, the other purpose of Holy Happy Hour is simply to give us a chance to share holy fellowship together. Just last night, I heard conversations about finding God in the workplace, about raising teens, about making the choice to retire, about the joys and challenges of being a parent with young kids, and several other topics I can’t recall now. The point is there are opportunities for theological reflection all around us, and some of the godliest conversations begin in the mundane stuff of day-to-day life ... even in a bar (maybe especially in a bar).

At Holy Happy Hour, we got the chance to share those conversations with people who are, or are becoming, like family members. As Janet Sheffey said that evening, “We worship together as a family, so why shouldn't we have a beer together as a family?”

Indeed. I like to think that might cause our Lord to grin. In fact, I think Holy Happy Hour is an opportunity for Christ to come into our midst. It might be a less-than-liturgical setting, but the parallels between this gathering and Eucharist are worth a moment of meditation. In both, the family gathers around a table for a celebration, enjoying holy gifts of food and drink, finding connection with each other and with God. It may not be “real presence” in a theological sense. We may have been sharing nachos and beer rather than bread and wine. But I can tell you with certainty that Christ was there last night, eating chips and lifting a glass among us.

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